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The State of Cannabis Legalization | 2021 Update!

It’s been a minute since we’ve done a rundown of the states that have legalized cannabis – so we’re starting off 2022 with a check-in on our fellow legal markets! Ten years ago this November, I-502 was passed in Washington. Since then, states across the country have either legalized or introduced legislation to legalize cannabis. Be it through the medical avenue or recreational, cannabis has seen waves of progress! While Cannabis remains a Schedule I substance under the United States Controlled Substances Act, we’ve seen encouraging change in decriminalization efforts and overall public opinion. Let’s take a quick look at where legalization stands. 


States joining the adult-use market in 2021:

Welcome to Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia!

It’s no surprise that states continue to adopt new laws – there has been a tidal wave of pro-cannabis sentiment since the first legal states successfully established new markets. Last year was another banner year for the legalization movement and five new states have joined the adult-use market! This leaves only six states with no legal access to any sort of cannabis: Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, North Carolina, & South Carolina. The rest of the 44 states land somewhere on the spectrum from CBD only to full medical and adult use. Notably, South Dakota’s Supreme Court invalidated a voter-approved adult-use legalization initiative on procedural grounds. We expect to see it on the ballot again in 2022.

What does the future of legalization look like?

The legalization and sale of cannabis is advancing rapidly not only in the U.S. but also abroad. Global cannabis sales are expected to increase from $13.4 billion in 2020 to $33.6 billion by 2025. 

More states are likely to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in the coming years. As public support keeps increasing, and the number of marijuana companies rapidly proliferating, more states are being enticed by the potential for significant tax revenues from cannabis sales.


Federal Efforts to Decriminalize

Efforts are also underway in the U.S. Congress to enact major cannabis reform at the federal level. In 2021 the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act and the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act didn’t make much progress. Further, the SAFE Banking Act failed in the Senate. 

In 2022 keep your eyes on the States Reform Act, which would decriminalize cannabis federally and would help get rid of other federal regulations that are not favorable to cannabis companies. The SAFE Banking Act is still alive as well and could be enacted in 2022.  Despite the hurdles, cannabis proponents believe that it is only a matter of time before marijuana becomes legal, or at least decriminalized, nationwide.


We are beyond thankful that we are able to safely access adult-use cannabis and hope that in the coming years, more communities will be able to join us. In the meantime, let’s raise a bowl to our good fortune next time we light up. 


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